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Veriff settles BIPA claim for $4M; defendants reaching for victory strategies

Veriff settles BIPA claim for $4M; defendants reaching for victory strategies
 

Defendants in U.S. biometric privacy lawsuits will not like the analogy because of its implied inevitability, but the legal production line is moving smoothly, delivering little else but victory for plaintiffs.

Here is a snapshot of late-February courtroom developments.

First, a look at McGowan v. Veriff Inc. (case 2021-cv-06706) heard in the federal district court for the Northern District of Illinois.

ID verification software maker Veriff has formally ended its legal argument that it did not violate the state of Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act. Executives have agreed to pay $4 million to settle the claim.

Veriff was accused of (but does not admit to) harvesting face biometrics, which it used for identity verification, without first getting express consent, according to trade publication Top Class Actions.

Class-action plaintiffs, all Illinoisians, will get a total of $300 to $600 each as compensation for alleged mishandling of their biometric data between November 12, 2016, and December 5, 2022.

The rest of the facial recognition privacy cases involve smaller updates.

In Kashkeesh v. Microsoft (case 1:21-cv-03229), Microsoft has asked a federal district court judge for the Northern District of Illinois to send its case to arbitration.

According to trade publication Law360, the case involved a plaintiff who claimed their facial biometrics were collected by a Microsoft system used by Uber to identify its drivers.

Microsoft claims it is protected from having to go before a judge in this case because Uber drivers sign agreements that force arbitration in disputes between Uber and drivers and drivers and any other entity “without limitation,” according to Law360’s reporting.

Another big-name biometric privacy case, though this one in Texas, involves Meta – and now personally, its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg.

Texas v. Meta Platforms, case number 22-0121, is being heard in the 71st District Court of Harrison County, Texas. The state’s attorney general is accusing Meta of violating the Capture or Use of Biometric Identifiers Act, understandably shortened to CUBI, which shares goals with BIPA. State attorneys also alleges that Meta broke Texas’ Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

The judge in the case has ordered Zuckerberg and his chief product officer, Chris Cox, to comply with a file request by the state. The parties must agree on search terms.

And finally, a BIPA defendant thinks it sees in a recent Illinois Supreme Court a way out of the $228 million verdict it faces.

Executives at rail giant BNSF apparently feel the judge in their case might have chosen a smaller fine if it were permissible.

The judge in BIPA case Cothron v. White Castle has decided that judges have discretion in applying remedies. As Law360 puts it, they can “strike a balance between fair punishment and avoiding financial ruin for companies.”

Attorneys for BNSF say they want at least a partial new trial to decide the matter.

BNSF has been found guilty of violating BIPA, requiring without consent truck drivers’ fingerprints as they enter and leave yards.

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